Part of State Sen. Dan Brown's SB 75, which was signed by Gov. Jay Nixon on Friday, will enable schools in Missouri to offer first-graders the NRA-sponsored Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program.
When I first read this on the AP wire, I squirmed in my chair. But then, I did some research, and realized that this was a good thing.
I will admit, I am not a fan of the NRA. Before I go any further, let me clarify. Just because I don't care for the NRA, doesn't mean I don't support private gun ownership. I do. I think every law-abiding American has the right to own as many firearms as they choose. But I also believe like everything else, that right can be abused.
Responsible gun ownership is a wonderful thing. Many of my family members and close friends fit that very description. But when responsibility disappears from the equation, people have no right and quite frankly no business owning a firearm. There are too many of us to have to tolerate idiots toting guns.
Now, back to business.
The Eddie Eagle program is about as innocuous as children's programs come. According to the program website, it teaches children in pre-K through third grade these four primary steps if they encounter a firearm: Stop. Don't Touch. Leave the Area. Tell an Adult.
The program mascot, Eddie Eagle, presents the curriculum in a fun, easy-to-learn way.
The site says that the program has been taught in all 50 states. Since it was launched in 1988, it has reached "more than 26 million children."
Eddie doesn't use a gun during the presentation. There is no mention of whether gun ownership is good or bad, and he doesn't wear an NRA shirt or even mention it.
"This program was developed through the combined efforts of such qualified professionals as clinical psychologists, reading specialists, teachers, curriculum specialists, urban housing safety officials, and law enforcement personnel," the site says.
"Like swimming pools, electrical outlets, matchbooks and household poison, they're treated simply as a fact of everyday life. With firearms found in about half of all American households, it's a stance that makes sense."
I have to say I am quite impressed. My contention with the NRA is mostly political. Any group that exercises that much power over that many people and has mastered the art of mendacity – the same goes for the ACLU – will find it difficult to get my respect. I know this program isn't 100 percent altruistic, but it's a start.
When I was a kid, I remember the fire marshal coming to my school. "Stop, Drop and Roll!" was a phrase they hammered into our heads if we ever had the misfortune of "catching on fire."
Even in my mid-30s, I still remember those words. If we can teach kids early in life that guns are not toys, and that they should "tell an adult" immediately, perhaps that respect for firearms will carry over into their young adult lives. I mean let's face it, guns look cool when all you see on TV are cop shows and the video games are filled with violence.
Page 2 of 2 - Many of the outdoorsmen I know are not violent people. I have seen dads scold their boys for holding a rifle the wrong way, and that's a good thing. Holding a child accountable in the interest of safety is not "verbal abuse."
I would rather have a despondent child for 20 minutes than a dead child forever. So kudos to parents who pass the legacy of hunting to their children and reinforce the importance of safety.
And I would personally like to thank Sen. Dan Brown and Gov. Jay Nixon for this bill. And I never thought I would say this, but I would also like to send a special thank you to the National Rifle Association. Wayne and I might just have breakfast one day after all!